Monday, December 30, 2013

Vintage Sewing Patterns and Neelde Packs

I'm looking forward to tomorrow when I get my stitches removed from my foot surgery!  Yahoo - can hardly wait! Lovely, huh?

It's almost a new year, but it's always fun to look back.

A few weeks ago,  a friend of mine from my guild invited me over to her house to look through some fabrics, notions, etc. that she obtained from helping an older friend (102 years old) move from a house to a residential care center.  My friend, like many of us quilters , has more than enough fabric and 'stuff' and did not want to collect any more.  There was a lot of Tulle, some velvets and other fabrics, cool vintage patterns and needle packs, and lots of rick-rack.  It was fun looking through everything.  I graciously accepted all of it and donated most of the fabrics to our new, fledging drama program at school for costumes.

I love the old, vintage patterns. I guess I remember similar patterns sitting on my mom's sewing machine, when I'd hang out with her as a little one, while she was sewing.  Here's a couple I really liked in particular.

There was no date on this one, but there was an NRA logo on the left lower part.  I found an interesting website, that explained the NRA logo was not the National Rile Association, which was my first thought, but rather it stood for the National Recovery Administration which was  part of the New Deal under President Roosevelt. Patterns with this logo can be dated  to between 1933 and 1935.  Another interesting thing about this pattern, is that none of the pieces have any markings on them.  They are totally blank, so you need to guess which is the skirt front, back, etc.  All the instructions for cutting and sewing, few that there are, are printed on the back of the envelope.

This pattern is from 1931 and all the pieces are labeled and there is a separate instruction sheet.  Pretty snazzy jammies!

Below are some very cool needle packs, which it seemed were quite popular.

These two are from grocery stores. I found some offered on EBay that stated they were from the 1950's.  Both are from West Germany.

This beauty was in really good shape.  It was in a parchment paper envelope with a paper inside the booklet itself. It was made in Japan, probably in the 1950's, from what I can gather from visiting a variety of websites.  There are some of these that were made in Occupied Japan as well and are labeled as such.  Below is a picture of the inside as well.

Hope you enjoyed this little trip back in time.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas Everyone

My wish for everyone this Christmas is that you get to spend some time with family or friends that you love, can relax with, and really be yourself.  In addition I hope you get some time to be creative.  I'm  still embroidering Christmas gifts, which I guess I better finish today, and have had time for working in one of my sketchbooks, something I usually don't ever find time for.

Everyone has been so helpful to me as I recover from foot surgery done on the 16th.  I'm not used to, nor do I like, people doing everything for me.  I am much more comfortable  being the doer.  So thank you to all my friends for your good wishes, casseroles, phone calls, etc.  My husband has really stepped up to take over the shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc.  He's a great guy and I'm so lucky to have him.

I could show you a picture of my lovely black surgical boot, but I'm sure you've seen one before and you know what they say, "If you've seen one....."  Instead below is a picture of my favorite card received so far this Christmas, sent my my sister-in-law.  I believe they bought them in Africa, where they visited this past year, although there was nothing printed on the back of card to verify that.  I just loved the strong simplicity of the design incorporating fabric collage.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Foot Surgery and Almond Brittle

Today I am recuperating from having foot surgery yesterday.  I had a bunionectomy and had to get the 2nd toe straightened out.  The doctor shaved some bone off of the big toe and inserted it into the 2nd toe, after removing some scar tissue and cartilage there.  He also  removed a nerve between the 2nd and 3rd toe.  Sounds like fun, hey.  The surgery went very smooth and all the staff at Sierra Vista hospital were awesome. They really took great care of me.  My husband has been great too.  So I've been sitting with my foot up and putting ice on it.

Knowing this surgery was coming up., I did all my Christmas stuff earlier this year than ususal.  I must have made  about 8 batches of almond brittle to give to friends and relatives.  Everyone seems to love this stuff and it's easy to make.

Ingredients:  1 stick of butter (1/2 cup),  1 1/2 cups of raw almonds ( I get the ones at Trader Joe's for $5.99),  1 cup of sugar.

Put all the ingredients into  a heavy saucepan and turn up the heat between medium and high.  Stir often, towards the end you will need to stir constantly.  It will go through all sorts of changes in texture.  Turn up  heat a little higher after the butter is melted.  Be sure to use a metal spoon to stir it.  I once used one of the white plastic spoons and it melted into the brittle.  It looked like I had added macadamia nuts because of the white melted chunks.  We still laugh about that one. When it looks like carmel and it's starting to bubble, it is done.  Pour it onto a cookie sheet, spreading it out.  Let it cool and then break it up into delicious chunks of brittle.  Soak the pan and spoon in very hot water to clean it.  

Well, back to my other chair with more ice and some pain pills and taking it easy.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Citrasolv Art

Today I was looking through my Citrasolv Experiments, some of which I printed on fabric.  It's a fun, kind of smelly process that allows you to dissolve and distort the ink from some glossy magazine pictures to create great textural papers.  For more info on the process go to  Once there go to their Artist Support section and scroll down to Artist Galleries.  Sarah Winkler,  who had a studio in Studios on the Park, Paso Robles,  was the first artist, whose work I saw utilized these textues in a fabulous way.  She gave a short workshop on how to create them using Citrasolv, which is a cleaning fluid, on National Geographic Magazine pages.  Basically, you brush or rub a rag saturated with the citrasolve over the page you desire and then close the magazine up for anywhere from 20 minutes to 24 hours, putting something heavy on it.   Then you have to dry and air out the papers.  Here's a link to a video about it,  Just google citrasolv transfers and there's lots of information out there about it.

Here's some papers I made.  I've transferred some of these to fabrics and am playing around with them. I love the abstract quality of them.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Victorian House Design

I can't show you what I've been working on this week because it's been making presents and I don't want any of my friends to see what they are getting for Christmas. So instead I'll tell you what I've been working on for school.

Every December in Paso Robles, the folks who live on Vine Street between 8th and 21st streets decorate their houses to the hilt for an event called Vine Street Victorian Christmas Showcase.  People are encouraged to bring canned goods to donate in front of the house they like best.  There are performances by local bands,  choirs and dance troupes in front of many of the houses, hayrides, food and beverage offerings. It's a wonderful event for the whole family. The  favorite of many of my students is the enactment of Scrooge, by a Paso Robles local, from the 2nd floor balcony of one of the beautifully decorated Victorians that line Vine Street.

I tie this community event into a project for my 8th grade students. Yesterday I went down Vine Street and a few others to take new pics of the houses.  I'm switching from showing my students the houses via an out-dated slide projector to a power point presentation, since I now have a slick document reader and projector in my classroom.

Here's pics of some of Paso's 'painted ladies', as Victorian houses are often called.

Students learn about Victorian houses and architectural elements as they draw a house from that era.   Then they transfer their drawing onto a piece of aluminum.  Next, they achieve more dimension through pressing in some areas and poof out others, working form both the front and the back.  Lastly, they coat the piece with black, permanent ink allowing it to dry then buffing up the top areas, leaving ink in the recessed ones.

The photos don't do justice to these pieces, due to reflection on them, but they are really fabulous.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

New Photoshopped Art Quilt Project

Ever since I took a class from Susan Brandeis  at the U of  Minneapolis in 2009 as part of the Splitrock Summer Arts Program, I've been wanting to make another quilt from one of my pictures enhanced through the magic of photoshop.  So finally, last week I played with this picture of rust on metal.

I played with it in photoshop until I created something I liked and then I enlarged the image to approximately three times its size.  I printed it out onto nine,  8" x 10" pieces of treated fabric for printing (I especially like Betty's Photos on Fabric cotton Twill) and then sewed them together.  The sewing didn't go as smoothly as I wanted due to some of the pieces printing out too close to the edge on four sections.  I had to fuse additional fabric strips to those, so I would have enough of a seam allowance.  The fabric must have moved a bit in going through the printer.  Here's the sewn together version.

  In Susan's class I made the quilt below, using the same methods, but only doubled the size.  It was printed on four pieces of silk, I hand-sewed together.  I also printed a leaf on organza as an overlay.  I then embroidered and beaded it.

Here's the original photo that inspired it.

Do you have a favorite pre-treated fabric you like for printing?  What about any tips for "tiling" photos using a Mac and Photoshop, or even even using Spoonflower or another commercial fabric printer.  I tried to work with Spoonflower's website to find out how much it would cost to enlarge one photo to approximately a yard but couldn't figure out how to upload the image  without them thinking I wanted zillions of reprints of the same pic.  Has anyone else tried using them to print one enlarged image?  Maybe you'd be so kind to share your tips with me. They tried to help me with some info via email, but I just didn't get what they were saying.  Sometimes technology and I don't see eye to eye.

Wishing all my readers a very happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Willy's Quilt Finished

Due to the help of some wonderful quilters in my school district and the contributions and encouragement from staff, the quilt for our teacher colleague is done and will be given to him this weekend.  Here's a picture of the quilt and some of our great staff.

Below is the finished quilt with the red binding
 which worked well to pick up all the reds within the blocks. 

Below is the back of the quilt with the machine embroidered block and quilt label, 
listing all those who contributed.

Here is a closeup of the  beautiful embroidered block done by
 one of the talented teacher quilters at my school.

Hoping this quilt brings comfort to our friend Willy and helps him to tolerate his radiation treatments this week and his upcoming chemo. 
 Thanks again to all my colleagues in getting this quilt done so quickly.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Quilt for Willy

As I wrote in my blog last week, a good friend and great teacher at my middle school  is dealing with cancer.  Due to lots of contributions of money and time from other staff members at my school, the quilt for Willy is almost completed.  We had lunch in my classroom last week and pinned the layers together.   Yesterday I machine quilted it and today, one of the other teachers is attaching the binding to the front.  Two other staff members will finish sewing it on, a label will get attached and then it will be off in the mail to him, hopefully providing him with some much needed comfort as he receives his treatments.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Halloween Costume and Quilt for a Friend

Halloween turned out to be a lot of fun at school with the kids.  Wearing the Warhol Soup Can created a very teachable moment for informing the students about Pop Art Style.  I showed them pictures of works by Warhol, Thiebaud, Lichtenstein, and Oldenburg.  They weren't quite sure it was art but they seemed to enjoy it.  Here I am in my costume with another teacher.

Sadly, one of my teacher friends at school, whom I've known for twenty some years,  just found out he has cancer and is facing a pretty serious battle ahead.  He's a Navy guy, avid surfer and just a very fun, nice guy. All his students just love him.  He makes history fun and interesting.  Here's the quilt up on my design wall, that some of us are going to quickly put together for him.  Hoping it provides some comfort. There's 25 blocks and it will have a border.  The Santa Cruz fabric on the right is being auditioned for the border.  The eight Australian fabric blocks look better in person.  They look kind of dull here.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

New Blue Jean Purse and Halloween Costume

This week I finished making a blue jean purse I started in summer!  It wasn't that it was difficult.  It just seemed other tasks kept on taking precedence.  It has two pockets inside and two outside to help me keep organized, which is always a battle. I used some Sherill Kahn fabric for the pockets and strap.

With Halloween coming up this week, I decided to make a new costume. It's not a new idea for a costume, but new for me. I'm looking forward to wearing it to school on Thursday and having the students learn a little bit about Warhol. I found the plain white dress at Goodwill earlier in the week, so just projected a picture of one of Warhol's soup cans onto the dress which was clipped to my whiteboard at school.  Then I colored away.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Cutting Edge Show and Pacific International Quilt Show

Sorry I haven't posted in two weeks but it's just been a very busy time getting our house back to normal from the leak we had under our slab and I had lots of school related stuff.  Being a full-time teacher tends to be pretty full time.

Our Cutting Edge Fiber Art group had a great special exhibit at PIQF this weekend.  Here's a picture of one of my quilts there.  This one is called "Controlled Burn" and is made of arashi shirbori fabrics I dyed.

I think my favorite quilt there was this fabulous one by Kathryn Harmer Fox.  It measured 59" x 49" and was made up of many small pieces of fabric and threads, as you will see in the closeup of the eye.

Of course there were hundreds of other great quilts and too many vendors enticing all of us to spend more than we could afford.  I didn't go too crazy spending money. Being on furlough days has made me look very hard at what I buy.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Machine quilting

This week has been somewhat hectic dealing with plumbers, drywall and carpet contractors, and the insurance adjusters as we try to get out house back to normal repairing the five holes in the walls and floor. Nothing compared to what people have gone through in  in the aftermath of some of the horrible storms and fires that have ravaged our country in the past months and year.  Yesterday I took a break from it all and did some machine quilting. It kind of fit that my quilting mostly went in circles.

On a personal note, with our anniversary coming up, I was looking through wedding photos
 and came across this one taken thirty some years ago of my hubby and I  sitting
 on my 1976 Dart Swinger, just days before getting married. 
The Dart was one of my favorite cars and he is definitely my favorite husband!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Australian Aboriginal Art

Didn't get to quilt too much this last week, just a little machine quilting on my newest art quilt.  We are having major plumbing issues at home with a leak in a pipe under our slab.  Lots of fun, as you can imagine.  So most of my time has been spent dealing with plumbers and insurance adjusters and we're still not done.  My former studio, which was turned back into my son's room when he moved home, now has a gaping hole through which you can see the mud under the slab.  More jackhammering on Monday to find yet another two leaks and then hopefully it can be patched up without us having to redirect all our plumbing overhead through the attic.

So, instead of showing you pictures of that gaping hole in the floor, I thought I'd share some of my students' Australian Art compositions because they did such a great job on them.  I hope they offer some inspiration for creating quilts.  The paint they used made the paper ripple a little, so the photos aren't quite flat looking.  Once they are framed or pinned to a wall they really look great.  My 7th graders really enjoyed making these.  Hope you enjoy them too.